Imagine my surprise (and shame at not having known this before) to have learned that courts in Canada have been overturning decisions in which women have been charged with public indecency for being topless, since 1996! The website mentioned up there, for the Topfree Equal Rights Association highlights many cases of women charged with crimes, simply for going topless.

In some cases, women have been charged with public indecency for breastfeeding in public, and I’m pretty sure you know where Yours Truly stands on that particular piece of bull-twaddle.

Here’s the deal. The most important part of this entire discussion, that being whether women ought to have the right to go topless if they so desire (the answer to that is simply: “yes”, by the way), is not “YAY, PUBLIC BOOBIES!” (although there’s nothing wrong with that), but rather the fact that breasts are *not* sexual objects.

We have made them so, particularly since the early part of the 20th century. Back in the 1800s when table and piano legs were considered immodest, women’s bodies were dangerous places where the sin of the flesh may be found. Men? Not so much. Poor men were merely the victims of overpowering lust, incited by women’s immodesty. See how ridiculous that sounds? Well. Times change.

Women, by and large, do not and will not go topless, because, truth be told, they will be stared at, harassed, photographed, and filmed. Nobody pays any attention to Joe Jogger who’s carrying his shirt in his hand. But if there’s a woman walking topless, traffic stops and people stare and, sometimes, she gets arrested for public indecency.

And there are some people out there who are all in favour of topless freedom because they love boobies. Because to them, breasts *are* sexual objects, and the more boobies they get to see, the better their lives are. Bully for you guys, I say. I’m not going to tell you you can’t look and get your jollies that way. But what I *am* saying is that you may be in favour of topless freedom for the wrong reasons.

Head on over to the Go Topless website. Take a look at some of the “legal/illegal” images on that site. Incidentally, there are some people who say that ‘topless’ is a word that somehow is more synonymous with strippers and sex workers, and that ‘top free’ is an expression that promotes equality.

Not to belittle that argument, but whatever. I’m’a stick with ‘topless’ for the most part. ‘Top free’ sounds too much like some weird yoghurt product.

Anyway. Right. This is about equality, and the freedom of women to be topless (and here’s the important bit) **without persecution, harassment, or unwanted attention**. When you go to a beach or a park where it’s never been an issue whether people wear tops, regardless of gender, the only people staring are the people who are repressed, or who have been taught that breasts=sex. It *is* first base, after all.

I just…I’ve always figured that if someone is uncomfortable with my decision to read books in my backyard, wearing a top or not, that’s their problem, not mine. Yet, as a woman of means in the breast department, let me just tell you that there aren’t very many times when I enjoy people staring at my chest.

I might joke about it, or play along, but for the most part, I’d really rather there wasn’t such a big deal made about it. Or them. And if I decide to be topless in Wascana Park (as a woman was in 1998, who was later charged with indecency after the pool staff convinced someone to complain about said toplessness), I not only have the right to be so, but I also have the right to be so *free of harassment, staring, snickering, picture taking, comment, etc.*.

So I think what I’m trying to say is that folks should, by now, have figured some things out.

And also, that courts in Canada routinely overturn public indecency for being topless charges. Although I’m positive that this will never happen while certain sweater-vest-wearing knobs are still in power, it would be nice to see official legislation enacted that unequivocally offers this freedom to women *and* to men (and to every gender in between, for that matter) so that organisations like TERA don’t have to help Canadian women with their court costs when they’re arrested for doing something they have every right to do.






13 responses to “”

  1. Cheruby Avatar

    Props to toplessness and gender equality. I hesitate to arouse your ire, but so be it. Boobies arouse a lot of things.

    Anthropologist Desmond Morris has some interesting things to say on the subject of boobs. In particular, he points out that human females are the only primates whose boobs stay big even when they’re not pregnant. Why? It’s sexual. Boobs are a sign of fertility and, not incidentally, curvy hips indicate a better chance of surviving birth. Those curves are evolutionarily designed over thousands of years to make men hot under the collar.

    Our Victorian heritage has made boobs naughtier than they ought to be. Nipples get a bad rap in particular. It’s just that if, let us pray that come it may, (as come it will for a’that), the day that toplessness is completely publicly accepted and not taboo, men (and the occasional woman) will still stare. I agree that harassment, unsolicited photography and lurking nearby are uncalled-for in a topless scenario. But never try to take away my evolutionary right to stare. I’ve spent too much of my life averting my eyes and feeling guilty for wanting to look. I’m through with that.

    And is there anything wrong with sexy boobs? No, I say. Men have body parts that serve other functions but also indicate fertility and child-rearing capability. We have body parts that are stared-at. Would you deny the sexual function of a man’s ass simply because it’s used primarily for walking and the pinching of loaves? No! So why deny the dual-purpose of your own boobs? It’s unfair to them.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      I’m not denying anyone anything.

      All’s I’m saying is that if you’re supporting toplessness so that you can stare at boobies, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. And that regardless of how we *got* to this effed-up place of equating bodies with sexual objects first and foremost (which is a sad, sad place to be), we can get out of it.

      Stare all you like; no one says you can’t. Just don’t be offended when someone takes offense.

      1. Suz Avatar

        Well, cenobyte, I have to say that your response to my dear husband’s comments were a lot more conservative than mine. ::insert heated discussion here::

        The heated discussion started with his saying, “I think I probably pissed cenobyte off again.”

      2. Cheruby Avatar

        I admit that part of my support for topfree movements is that I’m a boob-man. I’m big enough to confess. However, I am also officially supportive of feminine empowerment and equality because it’s awesome. I can support topfree for two reasons, even if one is altruistic and one is selfish, right? And how does one even get out of the effed-up place we’re in now other than more public boobs? Old-fashioned men like me who are in need of reform through desensitization are actually topfree’s biggest target audience. I’m not seeing a conflict of interest here.

        And now that I think about it, I think I WOULD be offended if I was chastised for staring. Chastising “seeing” strikes me as one step away from thought policing. If one does not want something looked at, don’t show it around.

        1. cenobyte Avatar

          Again, what I said was ‘don’t be offended when someone gets offended when you STARE’. Looking is one thing. We look at others because they’re part of our tribe; it’s part of what binds us together. We tend to look more at people we find attractive. But if you wouldn’t stare at a guy without a shirt (boobs or no), don’t get offended if a woman you’re staring at takes offense. It’s not thought police; that’s just silly.

          And saying that if you don’t want someone staring, don’t give them things to stare at…well…that’s kind of like saying if you don’t want people being racist, then separate them from people of other races. It’s kind of ridiculous.

          I don’t doubt there will be a lot of backwards people like you who stare at topless women because they’ve convinced themselves that the primary purpose of breasts is for your own sexual pleasure, and supporting toplessness for this reason is just wrong. HOWEVER, in my bid to change the world, I recognise I have to fight one battle at a time, and putting up with people staring at my chest when I’m topless, while it makes me uncomfortable, is one of them. Because my *goal* here is to kill this ridiculous western idea that breasts are sexual objects.

          I mean, monkey arguments aside, there are plenty of cultures where women and men are both topless. The men in those cultures don’t stare at the wimmins, because, first, it’s what they’re used to, and second, it’s not about sex. It’s just really not about sex. So that’s where I want western culture to go. Get away from the ridiculous taboos that say dressing eight year old girls like whores is socially acceptable but that if you want to go topless you have to accept that people are going to leer at you and be comfortable with it.

          1. Cheruby Avatar

            Okay, one last post and then I’m done, I promise.

            Boobs are a gender identifier. Even if you successfuly destroy the taboo associated with exposing them they will still be a symbol of femininity. Yes, there are cultures that don’t have the taboo. But that doesn’t mean that breasts aren’t still compared and admired in those cultures as symbols of feminine beauty. In our culture, for example, women’s bare legs are not taboo but they are still observed and remarked-upon if they are shapely and lovely.

            Feminine beauty is sexy. From a monkey-argument-evolutionary perspective, it is linked to health, youth and child-bearing capacity. A young, perky, full set of boobs will always be sexy, clothed or not. Such boobs will be stared-at and admired, taboo or not.

            I have one question for you, cenobyte. What is wrong with the concept of boobs as sex objects? Put another way: why does it bother you that I think of bubbies as sexy?

            I will not accept an answer that goes, “Because they’re exclusively for feeding babies,” because boobs can, in theory, have several purposes. I will also not accept the answers, “Because when some women have bigger boobs other women have body-issues”, “Because some women get breast implants” or “Because it annoys me when men stare at them”: those answers have more to do with personal insecurities than morality.

            The answer I’m seeking should be centred on me because I really want to understand this. Ideally, it should go something like, “You, Cheruby, are (incorrect/stupid/naughty/evil) for thinking that boobs are sex objects because… (insert argument here)”.

            As I promised, this is my last post on this subject. You get the last word. Go.

            1. cenobyte Avatar

              Well, first, I don’t accept that boobs will always be stared at and that they’re a symptom of child-bearing ability and of fertility. First, because that just isn’t true (if it was, flat-chested women wouldn’t be able to bear children as easily as beboobulated women). As you pointed out, humans are the only mammals whose females’ breasts remain engorged and prominent even when the women are not in estruus or nursing young. Evolutionary biologists have touted this more to walking upright than any sort of ‘come get me; I’m available’ thing.

              Humans are also one of the only mammals who do not prominently enter in to estruus cycles, per se. The best way to tell if a women is capable of and interested in mating is simply to *ask her*.

              Second, I would hope that beauty, period, is part of what makes someone ‘sexy’. Feminine beauty is no more sexy than masculine or androgynine or transgender beauty. A young and perky set of breasts is only ‘sexy’ in Western culture because we’ve been told and inundated with images and marketing that they are. In fact, in some cultures, young and pert breasts are *not* considered attractive, because it means that girl has never had children.

              Anyway. On to the Thesis.

              It doesn’t bother me that you think breasts are sexy. *I* think breasts are sexy. Other people think eyes are sexy. Other people think ankles are sexy. Still others think what’s between the ears is sexy. Sexy is what you make of it. But men and women deserve, first, equality. So either men don’t get to go topless either, or women *do* get to go topless.

              It bothers me that, particularly in the last 100 years, women have been relegated, for the most part, to the role of sexy objects whose bodies are designed for viewing/fantasy pleasure. It bothers me that the comics and RPGs and video games my boys like to play present huge-chested, small-waisted ‘women’ as some kind of ideal. It bothers me that if you throw a pair of tits into a beer commercial, ‘common sense’ tells you the beer will sell better. It bothers me that girls under the age of six think they will look better and BE better if they wear makeup and get their ears pierced and wear bikinis. It bothers me that when they grow up, if they want to go topless, they will also have to put up with people sizing up their chests and feel dirty. It bothers me that the only option is to not go topless. It bothers me that nudity in general is considered indecent.

              Why? Because nudity is natural and beautiful. This is how God/Evolution made us, and beauty is in what we are.

              Because women have the right to go shirtless, like men, and not be made to feel they’re doing something wrong, indecent, or dirty. And yes, the *primary* reason we have breasts, Cheruby, is to feed babies. The fact that we adorn them, worship them, we leer at them, we masturbate with thoughts of them bouncing unrestrained…that is what *we* have made of breasts, not what they’re *for*. There’s nothing wrong with finding breasts sexy. There IS something wrong in objectifying breasts.

              I don’t think you’re incorrect, stupid, naughty, or evil for liking breasts. I’d be pretty hypocritical if I did. I *do* think it’s sad, wrong, and pretty rude to consider breasts (or ankles, or lips, or left eyebrows, or whatever) as solely something God/Evolution designed *solely* for that purpose.

              In a personal sense, when I do go topless, I know I will be stared at. I know I have a pretty magnificent rack. Sometimes, I don’t like the attention the girls get, because it makes me feel like I’m being used. Sometimes, I don’t care. My point, on a personal level, is that I don’t think that the former case is good.

  2. Avatar

    I nominate february 7-11 as saskatchewans official topless week. celebrations to occur in wascana park. no motor vehicles allowed

        1. cenobyte Avatar

          Too true; too true.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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